UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col chaired a special Tripartite meeting – the first since the COVID-19 outbreak – with senior officers from the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) at a UN position in Ras Al Naqoura.
Discussions focused on the situation along the Blue Line, air and ground violations as well as other issues within the scope of UNIFIL’s mandate under UN Security Council resolution 1701.
Reiterating UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ recent appeal for global ceasefire in support of the bigger battle against COVID-19, Major General Del Col called on the parties to leverage the UN chief’s message to reaffirm commitment to respecting the cessation of hostilities and ensuring stability along the Blue Line.
“As we all fight the COVID-19 pandemic as a priority, we must not lose sight of the imperative to maintain calm and stability along the Blue Line,” he said. “As recent incidents along the Blue Line demonstrate, misunderstandings leading to unwanted escalation in tensions can still occur even during a time when our attention is elsewhere.”
He also emphasized the importance of fully utilizing UNIFIL’s liaison and coordination mechanisms to avoid misunderstandings and reduce the potential for escalation of tension: “Most importantly, these mechanisms must be availed of in a timely manner,” he said.
In particular, the UNIFIL head highlighted the relevance of the Tripartite forum as a necessary confidence-building mechanism that has enabled to de-escalate tensions and maintain the prevailing calm along the Blue Line.
Despite the COVID-19 crisis, he said, UNIFIL’s activities continue at normal levels.
“UNIFIL has been, and continues to be, proactive in taking all necessary precautionary measures and strengthening its preparedness efforts in response to the pandemic, as well as in ensuring that our operational capacity to implement our mandated activities is not affected,” he added.
Tripartite meetings have been held regularly under the auspices of UNIFIL since the end of the 2006 war in south Lebanon as an essential conflict management and confidence building mechanism.